How Can the Centre-Left Reinvent Itself?

New „Talking Progress“ Podcast episode with Tim Bale, André Krouwel and Ania Skrzypek


What does the future hold for social democratic parties and the centre-left? Political scientists Tim Bale and André Krouwel discuss how overarching narratives and a sharpened ideological compass can help progressive big-tent parties regain much-needed trust. Tune in as these experts debate and recommend paths forward for centre-left parties across Europe.

As the world in many ways is becoming more niche, traditional large tent parties have begun to struggle. In response, there is a temptation to appeal to certain segments of society. Both Bale and Krouwel advise that social democratic parties do not narrow their messaging and instead find ways to communicate in overarching narratives.

Klicken Sie auf den unteren Button, um den Inhalt von zu laden.

Inhalt laden

Find this podcast episode on PodigeeSpotifyApple Podcast, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Our guests are political scientists Tim Bale and André KrouwelAnia Skrzypek is moderating this session. Ania Skrzypek is Director for Research and Training at the Foundation for European Progressive Studies. She is in charge of the Next Left Research Programme and coordinates FEPS Young Academics Network.

Tim Bale is Professor of Politics at Queen Mary University of London, researching European political parties and their electorate. André Krouwel teaches political science and communication at the Fee University of Amsterdam and focuses on political parties, elections, populism, extremism and conspiracies.

The time of catch-all politics is over

The two guests discuss the challenges of social democracy and understanding the current electorate. Against common misconceptions, Krouwel states that the majority of voters are not leaving social democratic parties for far-right parties. Instead, they vote green, liberal or centre-right. Developing a right-wing agenda or imitating certain aspects of other moderate and centre-left parties is not a path forward, according to Krouwel: Social democratic parties should focus on their traditional strength as a big-tent movement unified around social justice and progress.

„Did voters leave the party or did the party leave the voters?“

André Krouwel

How can social democrats revive themselves?

Regaining trust by constantly demonstrating a visible moral compass is a good place to start. Bale and Krouwel debate exactly how much policy details parties should communicate, but both argue strong and personable leadership should have a higher premium. Relatable leadership can help communicate several signature policies that accurately represent the underlying morality of the party.

„People need to see themselves reflected in the leadership.“

Tim Bale

This episode is the second part of our Progressive Governance series. We recorded this session as part of the Progressive Governance Digital Summit that took place from June 9th to 11th 2021.

Post-production and additional recordings done by Annika Hoffmann and Das Progressive Zentrum. This session was designed in cooperation with the Foundation For European Progressive Studies.


Diego war Projektmanager und koordinierte vor allem den jährlichen Progressive Governance Summit sowie den transatlantischen Dialog New Urban Progress. Diego ist derzeit auch der Get-Out-the-Vote-Coordinator für Europa, den Nahen Osten und Afrika für Democrats Abroad.
Progressive Governance: Rise or Demise – How Democracies Can Withstand Authoritarian Attacks
New "Talking Progress" Podcast episode: A conversation between Anne Applebaum and Wolfgang Schmidt
Empowering Cities: Building Urban and Transatlantic Infrastructure
What are successful approaches and polices to the most pressing issues for German and US cities? How can cities and international networks strengthen the transatlantic partnership?
Empowering Cities: A Blueprint for Urban Progress
City leaders share the same worries: Climate change, rising inequality, housing insecurity and health inequity, to name a few. They talk about working towards progress. But how can a city’s development in these areas really be assessed?
Empowering Cities: Forging a Transatlantic Dialogue
Does Germany struggle with its unhoused populations the same way as cities in the United States do? What can the U.S. learn from Germany when it comes to improving public transportation infrastructure?
Annika Hoffmann war ab Januar 2021 Assistentin im Kommunikationsteam. Nach ihrem Dualen Studium an der TH Köln führte sie ihre Leidenschaft für Journalismus und Hörfunk nach Brüssel - zum Master in Communication Sciences an der Vrije Universiteit Brussel mit Fokus auf 'Journalism and Media in Europe'. Hier begeisterte sie sich für Kommunikationswissenschaft und Diskursforschung. Auch in Zukunft möchte sie ihre Interessen in Politik, ideologischer Kommunikation und die Zukunft der liberalen Demokratie, weiter verfolgen und den Schwerpunkt Diskurs und Ideologie rechter und populistischer Akteure, vertiefen. Privat engagiert sie sich ehrenamtlich beim grassroots Think Tank Club Alpbach Belgium Brussels (Teil des Forum Alpbach Network) als Scholarship Coordinator und Vorstandsmitglied.
Europe’s Man on the Moon Project
New "Talking Progress" Podcast episode: A Conversation between Robert Habeck and Margrethe Vestager
Progressives Against the Far-Right
New "Talking Progress" Podcast episode with Catherine de Vries, Cas Mudde and Johannes Hillje
Empowering Cities: The American Rescue Plan
How are cities using Biden’s stimulus package to drive change?
How can the 2020s be a progressive decade? – Action Paper
Progressive politics has to offer both practical policies for the present, and a sense of the more ambitious, longer-term transitions

Wir entwickeln und debattieren Ideen für den gesellschaftlichen Fortschritt – und bringen diejenigen zusammen, die sie in die Tat umsetzen. Unser Ziel als Think Tank: das Gelingen einer gerechten Transformation. ▸ Mehr erfahren